Kay's Blog

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The New Year

The New Year is almost here. And amid all the news and entertainment personalities who chatter mindlessly about New Year’s resolutions, I wonder how many other grieving mothers are dreading the end of 2015? Call it denial or an unhealthy unwillingness to face reality, but I find myself mentally clutching at the fleeting seconds of 2015 the way my fingers grasp the sleeve of a departing friend, and plead “Don’t go! Not yet! I’m not ready for you to leave.”


It probably sounds weird and even stupid to say I’m dreading the New Year- but for many of us grieving mamas (and dads, brothers and sisters, grandparents, uncles and aunts and friends), the end of a calendar year means we have to emotionally gear up to face another year without our beloved son or daughter.


See, I survived 2015. I survived the year Matthew would have turned 30; the photo album I would have created and presented with joy never started. I survived the 3rd Christmas without his silly, loving presence opening gifts in my living room. I survived 365 more days without hearing his voice on the other end of my phone or seeing his name pop up in a text. I survived seeing his dearly loved Toyota truck parked in my driveway every day with no deafening raucous music playing. I survived all the birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and our family vacation without him. I made it through 2015.


But starting at midnight tomorrow night, I have to start all over again. Another 365 days without Matthew. All the birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and family vacations will occur as they do every year, but they will go on without him. Another 365 days of no texts. No phone calls. No late night “Hey, Mom! Can I come over and watch a movie with you and Dad?” No outrageously inappropriate but loving greeting cards on my birthday or Mother’s Day. No “I love you, Mom.” Of course he wasn’t perfect – not even close – and in fact, mental illness brought tremendous suffering to him and our family. But he is my son. And I miss him. And to think of beginning another 365 days without him? Can I emotionally survive next year and the year after that and the year after that and all the years between now and my own death?


Those who aren’t in the middle of grief probably stopped reading after the first paragraph. That’s ok. I understand and don’t resent them. The Bible says in Romans 12:15 (NIV) says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” For any who are in a vibrant season of abundance and pleasure, I rejoice with you! Truly! I laugh with you! I cheer you on! I’m grateful for these days of strength and well-being you are experiencing. And for those of you dear ones who are mourning, I mourn with you. I ache with you as you long to hold your son or daughter one more time. I weep – sometimes quietly and sometimes till I gag – with you. I make room in my heart for your grief. As Pastor Brady Boyd says,” We have to make room for those who can’t celebrate (New Year’s).”


And yet, like the Psalmist in his laments, I must circle around to my only hope of emotional survival as I finish 2015 and begin 2016. Rev. 21:3-5 (MSG) promises, “'Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good – tears gone, crying gone, pain gone – all the first order of things gone.’ The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new.’”


One calendar day – God knows when – everything painful and broken will end. The countless tears spilled through the millennia, the innumerable deaths, and the immeasurable pain human beings have endured will finally reach their limit. They will end. The God who “moved into the neighborhood and made his home with us” will make EVERYTHING new. Because of that, I will survive every calendar page allotted to me until calendar pages themselves are gone and I find myself in that place of never-ending newness. Grieving friends, hold on. What we long for is coming...

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National Suicide Prevention Week

As National Suicide Prevention Week draws to a close, I want to say thanks to the hundreds of you who have shared your stories of pain, struggle and yes, HOPE. I asked a few days ago for anyone who lives with major depression or suicidal thoughts to let me know what keeps you tethered to life – and how you make it through the darkest moments of despair. You have responded with such amazing, vulnerable, and authentic words.


Most of you mentioned three “ties:” Family, faith, and friends who don’t walk out when things get tough. Yep. I would agree wholeheartedly. These are the three “ties” that have given me the strength to live again after Matthew’s death. My family – my husband and my other children and grandchildren; my faith – my heart is more turned towards Him than ever before; my friends – faithful, compassionate, sacrificial friends who have allowed our grief to be theirs.


Many of you also spoke of good medical care – caring therapists, plus treatments and medication that alleviate or manage some of the most troublesome symptoms. I’ve read stories that are so painful I can’t keep the tears from flowing down my face as years and years (sometimes decades) of suffering from crushing depression and suicidal thoughts are recounted. It’s been hard to read.


HOWEVER... and this is the most beautiful part... I’ve also read stories of hope. Stories of men and women who are survivors of the bleak despair... people who are now living happier, more fulfilling lives than they ever thought possible. I am ending this week with more joy and hope than ever before. Major depression and suicidal thoughts are NOT automatic guarantees of an awful life, nor is suicide inevitable. God is with you and will never leave you. There are medical breakthroughs and resources and proven treatments available.


Whether your biological family loves you the way you deserve to be loved or not, the family of God – which is eternal – will listen, encourage, pray with you, give you a hand when the darkness settles in. As brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, soul-satisfying friendships can be formed. YOU MATTER! Your life matters. As my friend Jamie Tworkowski says, “No one else can play your part!” For those in the black pit of pain: There is hope. There IS hope! There is HOPE!

Posted by Kay Warren with